This past week was a whirlwind, which somehow hasn’t yet seem to stop. I only worked three days last week because this nanny took a vacation! That is if you call driving 5 hours to visit your 90-year-old grandparents a vacation, then that’s what this nanny did.
The last day I worked last week was also a day when Big Bear didn’t have school. I decided to throw the double stroller into my Jeep, along with some milk, hats, and sunscreen and took the boys to Zoo Miami. I like taking the boys on a field trip by myself. I get Big Bear all to myself, and his excitement over seeing the Asian and African elephants is projected onto me, and only me. We got to the zoo as soon as it opened and wandered the paths from country to country. After a handful of potty breaks, feeding the giraffes lettuce and managing to sneak past every ice cream stand, the Bears and I headed home. We stopped at McDonald’s twice, because I didn’t buy enough chicken McNugget the first time, and I hoped that the Bears would fall asleep on the drive home. Silly, Rach. The next four hours of my last day before vacation were spent getting the bug spray and sunscreen off the boys in the tub, fixing more milk and hoping that one of the bros would crash on the couch watching The Mickey Mouse Club House. It didn’t happen.
Before I walked out of the door to start my vacation, I told Big Bear that I was going to visit my grandparents. He found this intriguing, especially since his grandparents live in his house. He asked me their names and asked if I was taking an airplane, like when his other grandma comes to visit from California. I told him that we would be driving. He got a kick out of learning that I’d be at the very top of the state of Florida and that he’d be at the very bottom. This is where the nostalgia takes center stage.
Jacksonville isn’t just where my family lives but also where I graduated college. It’s the city in which I had my first writing gig, (features intern reporter for the Florida Times-Union, woo!) it’s the city that I followed my college boyfriend to (although I didn’t think so at the time) and it’s the city where I thought I grew up in, because at 22 I thought I had it all figured out. I’d get a job at the daily newspaper even though I knew they were laying off more reporters than they were hiring. I’d live in Riverside with no roommates and have a great apartment and enjoy being single since I had recently broken up with my college boyfriend. But the job didn’t come and neither did the apartment. And this young graduate found herself moving back into the nest, surrounded by her father’s golf clubs and guitars that had taken over her room.
The weekend in Jacksonville came and went. Friday night I went to one of my old college haunts and drank $3 drafts and Saturday I stayed up until after midnight watching The Godfather with my grandparents, sister, mom, and the little brother I always wanted, my younger cousin by a year-and-a-half. As much as Jacksonville was a part of my life, I couldn’t wait to get back to Miami, where the number of Trump for President lawn signs were substantially less popular.
Monday morning I found Little Bear in the office with his grandpa. He wouldn’t turn around to look at me. I sat down with them a few minutes, and still, he didn’t warm up to me. It wasn’t until I picked him up and carried him to his room that I got any sort of response out of him, which was a big, warm hug. Grandma filled me in on my days out of the bear house and joked that I wasn’t allowed to go vacation again. Big Bear came home from school and gave me a big hug. He told me that he and grandpa made me a present. I might not have that apartment with no roommates and the reporting job with a kick-ass salary, but I do have the years since Jacksonville, the years that I learned that I don’t want to be a reporter and that I don’t want to live in North Florida. I want to be a Grovite and write what I want to write and be around like-minded people. So far so good.